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NFL Rushing Leader Odds & 2020 Best Bets You Should Back

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 6 mins

NFL Rushing Leader Odds & 2020 Best Bets You Should Back

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The Tennessee Titans finally made Derrick Henry a feature back in 2019, and it paid off – for both him and the team.

Henry rushed 303 times for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns – leading the NFL in all three categories – and the Titans advanced to the AFC Championship Game. Henry inked a $50 million contract in July.

Henry’s quest for a consecutive rushing title won’t be easy. As many as a dozen backs could make a case to be the 2020 NFL rushing champion.

Here are the current NFL betting odds for the top contenders.

Most NFL Rushing Yards 2020 Odds

Player Best Odds
Derrick Henry, Titans +750 (FanDuel)
Nick Chubb, Browns +950 (FanDuel)
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys +950 (FanDuel)
Saquon Barkley, Giants +1100 (bet365)
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers +1600 (BetMGM)
Dalvin Cook, Vikings +1600 (BetMGM)
Josh Jacobs, Raiders +1900 (FanDuel)
Miles Sanders, Eagles +2000 (DraftKings)
Joe Mixon, Bengals +2200 (FanDuel)
Chris Carson, Seahawks +2200 (FanDuel)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs +2500 (BetMGM)
Lamar Jackson, Ravens+2500 (bet365)
Austin Ekeler, Chargers +2500 (bet365)
Aaron Jones, Packers +2600 (FanDuel)
Kenyan Drake, Cardinals +2800 (bet365)
James Conner, Steelers +2800 (bet365)
Alvin Kamara, Saints +3300 (PointsBet)
Todd Gurley, Falcons +3300 (PointsBet)

NFL odds are current as of publication.

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NFL Rushing Leader Betting Tips

Ride Guys Who Get The Rock

Running backs who contend for the NFL rushing title tend to get the ball often. But lately it has been about more than just getting opportunities. It has been about getting the most opportunities.

Six of the past seven rushing yardage leaders have also topped the league in carries. The only exception was Kareem Hunt, who as an electric rookie in 2017 gained 1,327 yards, the lowest total by a rushing champ since 1990.

Contenders Gain When They Get It

Each of the top rushers over the last seven years have finished sixth or higher in yards per carry, among those with at least 200 attempts. Henry ranked No. 1 among those backs last year. Elliott was sixth the year before and third in 2016.

Among last season’s top six backs in ypc, three were atop the rushing board in Henry, Chubb and McCaffrey. The other three are slightly lower on the radar: Josh Jacobs of the Raiders, Aaron Jones of the Packers and Saquon Barkley of the Giants.

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Back Fully Rested Backs

In a somewhat-surprising find, none of the past seven rushing champions started a full 16 games the year before. That includes Kareem Hunt (2017) and Ezekiel Elliott (2016), who earned rushing titles as rookies.

Of the other five recent champs, only one of them finished in the top 10 (Elliott, 2017). The others finished 12th, 18th and 23rd, not counting Adrian Peterson’s 2014 season in which he played just one game.

So, which running backs finished between 10th and 25th last season despite not playing or starting in 16 games? Well, 14 of the 16 RBs who landed in that area qualify. Six of the top nine played in 15 games or fewer, as well, including Henry.

That doesn’t narrow the field much. The only RBs who would be knocked out based on this criteria would be Elliott, Chubb and McCaffrey – three of the top five players on the board.

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Take A Chance On Youth

The great majority of recent rushing champions were just getting their careers going. Adrian Peterson is the only back in recent years to win a rushing championship more than five years into his career – he did so in his sixth season and again in his ninth to go with the title he won in his second year.

Two of the last four champions have been rookies – the Chiefs’ Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a rookie out of LSU, is the only first-year player at +2000 or lower. The Colts’ Jonathan Taylor could have a chance, but he might not get enough chances with Marlon Mack in the Indy backfield.

This doesn’t narrow the field much. Of the top 10 rushing leaders of 2019, eight of them will be entering their third or fourth seasons. The only exceptions: Henry and Elliott, who are entering their fifth.

NFL Rushing Leader 2020 Picks

To win the NFL rushing title, a back must get ample opportunities and average significant yards per carry. It helps greatly to be on the younger side, too.

Here are two picks that adds a little risk to up the reward.

Saquon Barkley, Giants (+1100)

NFL Rushing Leader Odds & 2020 Best Bets You Should Back 1

As a rookie in 2018, Barkley played all 16 games and finished with 1,307 rushing yards on 5.0 yards per attempt. Last year his numbers dipped to 1,003 yards and 4.6 ypc, in just 13 games.

Barkley averaged 16.7 carries per game in 2019. That number needs to come up, but it should. New York has a new coach and made it the top priority to rebuild an offensive line through free agency and the draft, focused on protecting QB Daniel Jones and making space for Barkley.

New coach Joe Judge is an x-factor will little background to fall on. But NFL futures bettors should hope that the key to success with this Giants personnel is using the run to set up the pass. That means lot of touches for Barkley. Secure the highest odds for Barkley at bet365.

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Josh Jacobs, Raiders (+1900)

NFL Rushing Leader Odds & 2020 Best Bets You Should Back 2

The Raiders know the path to more wins is more handoffs to No. 28. In their losses in 2019, Jacobs received 16.8 carries per game. In the team’s victories, that number was 24.2.

He averaged a solid 4.8 yards per carry. If he plays 15-16 games, a rushing title is in reach and at fantastic odds.

Jacobs fits the bill in terms of health, workload and age. He fits the bill. Get Jacobs for the best odds at FanDuel.

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.